Research-proven: the vagus nerve is a key to well-being

Research-proven: the vagus nerve is a key to well-being

Original publication in Medium.com on december 19th 2019

“There’s a massive bioelectrical and biochemical series of events that the vagus nerve is responsible for, and all that is almost impossible to map.”

Written by Markham Heid

As WEF starts in Davos, building resilience is more than ever on leaders agenda to accelerate transformation !

As WEF starts in Davos, building resilience is more than ever on leaders agenda to accelerate transformation !

Original publication in weforum.org on December 2nd 2019

A. The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation.

In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. The best way to understand and harmonize the divergent interests of all stakeholders is through a shared commitment to policies and decisions that strengthen the long-term prosperity of a company.

 

  • i. A company serves its customers by providing a value proposition that best meets their needs. It accepts and supports fair competition and a level playing field. It has zero tolerance for corruption. It keeps the digital ecosystem in which it operates reliable and trustworthy. It makes customers fully aware of the functionality of its products and services, including adverse implications or negative externalities.
  • ii. A company treats its people with dignity and respect. It honours diversity and strives for continuous improvements in working conditions and employee well-being. In a world of rapid change, a company fosters continued employability through ongoing upskilling and reskilling.
  • iii. A company considers its suppliers as true partners in value creation. It provides a fair chance to new market entrants. It integrates respect for human rights into the entire supply chain.
  • iv. A company serves society at large through its activities, supports the communities in which it works, and pays its fair share of taxes. It ensures the safe, ethical and efficient use of data. It acts as a steward of the environmental and material universe for future generations. It consciously protects our biosphere and champions a circular, shared and regenerative economy. It continuously expands the frontiers of knowledge, innovation and technology to improve people’s well-being.
  • v. A company provides its shareholders with a return on investment that takes into account the incurred entrepreneurial risks and the need for continuous innovation and sustained investments. It responsibly manages near-term, medium-term and long-term value creation in pursuit of sustainable shareholder returns that do not sacrifice the future for the present.

B. A company is more than an economic unit generating wealth.

 

It fulfils human and societal aspirations as part of the broader social system. Performance must be measured not only on the return to shareholders, but also on how it achieves its environmental, social and good governance objectives. Executive remuneration should reflect stakeholder responsibility.

 

C. A company that has a multinational scope of activities,

not only serves all those stakeholders who are directly engaged, but acts itself as a stakeholder – together with governments and civil society – of our global future. Corporate global citizenship requires a company to harness its core competencies, its entrepreneurship, skills and relevant resources in collaborative efforts with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.

 

Written by 
Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

The pause between action and response is where your freedom lies.  Are you making good use of it?

The pause between action and response is where your freedom lies. Are you making good use of it?

Original publication in Medium.com on December 31st 2019

Victor E Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning says, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. And in that space is our power to choose our response in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

React vs respond

Reactions are instinctual. There’s no filtering process when you react in a situation — you’re running on auto-pilot. When you react, you do and say things on impulse, and don’t consider the implications of what you do or say.

Written by Thomas Oppong

Empathy : the magical ingredient for performing teams

Empathy : the magical ingredient for performing teams

Original publication in LinkedIn on septembre 11th 2019

Two European telecoms had partnered to develop a new product. Each had a team of engineers devoted to the product, but those team members each stayed in their own company headquarters, never seeing the other, even though they were working in the same city. The teams emailed each other—and soon the partnership broke down as the emails devolved into a flame war.

A consultant called in to help with the crisis had a simple solution: he got the two teams together for an offsite where they had beers together and got to know one another. The resulting empathy, he knew, would heal the split. The new product was delivered on time.

With the faster pace of change and disruption, markets and teams have become more diverse than ever. And alongside the digital whirlwind and the emergence of artificial intelligence, the human side of work, paradoxically, matters more than ever. Our relationships with colleagues, clients, and business partners will play a major role in the organizations that rise to the top and those that flounder. Empathy, our ability to understand and relate to others, will be key to success for organizations and their employees.

Empathy Bridges Cultural Differences

Take the increase in global business relations as companies go multi-national, markets become global, and the workplace itself morphs into an international reality. People who excel in empathy are most successful at leading cross-cultural teams and managing global customers. Understanding others’ points of view creates bridges across cultures. This is critical, for example, on teams who may never meet each other in person, yet need to communicate effectively.

On international assignments, empathic leaders get along well with people from very different backgrounds and cultures, and can express their ideas in ways the other person will understand. They also quickly pick up on unspoken cultural norms, enabling them to have smoother relationships.

Research shows that emotional intelligence (EI) is a crucial predictor of cultural adjustment, which means better outcomes on overseas assignments. Global managers with strong EI were able to adapt to new cultures and so received more positive feedback from their supervisors. In contrast, managers with low EI were more likely to struggle to adapt to a new culture and end their assignment early. By reducing the cultural gap, emotional intelligence enables managers to find commonality and build connections while on an international assignment, both in and outside of work. The result: success for their career and organization.

Build Loyalty in the Face of Change

Then there’s the relentless pace of mergers and acquisitions, during which the most effective leaders must recognize and deal with their employees’ unspoken feelings, such as fear, in order to successfully motivate and inspire them. Leaders who empathize with the emotions that uncertainty or change bring can find resonance even when delivering bad news.

Rosa Chun at the Manchester Business School found that a major factor in the low success rate of mergers results from a lack of understanding of the human side of such a disruption, and the emotions that roil within employees while companies are integrating. Too many organizations focus on the obligatory aspects of a merger—ensuring legal compliance, maintaining revenue, and keeping shareholders satisfied—while ignoring the human side of mergers and their emotional cost.

Particularly during a merger, clear communication can make the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction, loyalty and poor morale. In Chun’s study of a major pharmaceutical company that has grown through mergers and acquisitions, empathy was found to be the most desirable characteristics leaders could display during a merger. Organizational empathy, Chun found, yielded “employee loyalty, perceived job security, satisfaction, and emotional attachment” during and after a merger. By paying attention to the human side of mergers, leaders avoid letting the merger become an organizational crisis.

How to Strengthen Empathy

A first step in strengthening our own empathy might be simply taking some moments amid the distractions of life to care about the emotions and suffering of those around us, particularly those impacted by our decisions. Further steps might include: 

Active listening. Active listening is vital to relationships that work—letting us forge deeper connections throughout our lives. Showing genuine interest in what the other person is saying and feeling puts this into action, for example by asking follow-up and open-ended questions. Once you begin to strengthen your connection with someone, you can use what you learn to inform your future conversations.

Open up. You can complement active listening by opening up yourself. Sharing something deeply personal—such as a difficult experience or current struggle—lets us share our emotions and connect with others on a deeper level. If you’re a leader and find it difficult to disclose your emotions to your team, try talking with a colleague first.

Try well-wishing. Research has shown that people who spend time each day wishing well to themselves and others create a sense of ease, kindness, and greater well-being. In a well-wishing practice, we extend compassion to ourselves, our families and friends, our colleagues, and even people in our area we do not know. For a simple well-wishing practice, choose a routine activity such as walking your dog or driving to work to do a silent practice. Offer silent good wishes to the people nearby, to the people with whom you will be meeting with next, to those with whom you just met, or even to yourself.

Whether you’re preparing for an international assignment, leading a merger, or simply want to improve connections throughout your life, empathy is crucial for leadership success and personal well-being.

Written by Daniel Goleman 

 

Mindfulness programs support the development of executive function abilities

Mindfulness programs support the development of executive function abilities

Original publication in Mindful.org on November 21st 2019

New research shows that classroom-based mindfulness programs can aid the development of executive function abilities in young children, while also helping them cope better with stress.

More and more young, developing children are showing signs of stress when they enter school, making it more important than ever to teach young students the tools of emotional resilience. New research out of Australia finds that mindfulness education during the school day may be of benefit to elementary school students, building skills that help them thrive in the classroom and beyond.  

There are three critical skills that develop in early childhood: paying attention and remembering information, shifting back and forth between tasks, and behaving appropriately with others. These abilities are known as executive functions and they are essential for more advanced tasks like planning, reasoning, problem solving, and positive social relationships.

Most of what we know about the effects of mindfulness practice on the mind, emotions, and behavior comes from studies with adults. Although we know that mindfulness-based interventions in schools can be helpful for children, we know little about how these interventions affect executive function. Researchers at Australia’s Griffith University decided to find out.

The Effects of Mindfulness on the Mind, Emotions, and Behavior of Children

In the study, 91 kindergarten- to 2nd grade students participated in a classroom mindfulness program. Roughly two thirds of the children were offered lessons during the first part of the study, and the other third, who were part of the control group, were placed on a waitlist and received instruction later. At the end of the semester, researchers compared the children who initially received mindfulness training to the control group students.

The mindfulness program was designed to boost the development of executive function skills by building on what teachers are already doing in the classroom. Each day, teachers performed a “core practice” (listening to the sound of a chime) at the start of the day, after morning recess, and after lunch for the duration of the school term. They were also free to supplement lessons in typical academic subjects like reading or math with a variety of mindfulness-based activities to help kids keep calm, like taking mindful moments, reading books like “Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda”, drawing pictures, and making puppets. Students also practiced breathing and body scan exercises, and had their own mindfulness diaries. 

Students in the mindfulness classrooms were better able to pay attention, regulate their behavior, shift between tasks, plan, organize, and monitor their responses

Teachers in the study had little or no prior experience delivering mindfulness lessons. They received a half-day training session, weekly consultation, and a mindfulness program manual that included scripts and materials for teaching mindfulness to young children.

Students in both groups underwent a series of computerized tests before and after the semester to see if they differed in their executive functioning abilities. These tests included attention tasks, where children looked at a fish in the middle of a screen and had to say whether the other fish presented were pointing in the same or opposite direction. They also had to sort images on cards by shape or color. Lastly, teachers were asked to fill out questionnaires about students’ behavior, emotional wellness, relationships with peers, attention, and prosocial behavior.

Mindfulness Helps Kids Pay Attention, Regulate Behavior, Plan, and Organize

Results of the study showed that students in the mindfulness classrooms were better able to pay attention, regulate their behavior, shift between tasks, plan, organize, and monitor their responses than control group children. The students in the mindfulness program were also rated by their teachers as having greater attention and concentration skills, as well as more prosocial behavior. No significant differences were found between the groups on teacher reports of emotion or conduct problems, or peer relationship difficulties. 

These results are particularly important in light of the fact that early childhood is a critical time for developing executive functioning abilities, which are key to academic and social thriving. They also show that school teachers can effectively integrate mindfulness practices into classroom activities throughout the school day with very little training. School-based delivery may allow children who might not otherwise receive mindfulness instruction to benefit from its effects.

Written by B GRACE BULLOCK PHD

3 ways to refresh and renew for 2020 !

3 ways to refresh and renew for 2020 !

Original publication in mindful.org on december 27th 2019

Rather than brainstorming ways to improve your life in the new year, practicing mindfulness helps you accept the life you already have—and embrace it for all that it is.

The week leading up to the New Year can be a source of anxiety as we consider all the changes we should make to “better” ourselves. Rather than brainstorming ways to improve your life, practicing mindfulness helps you accept the life you already have—and embrace it for all that it is.

Here are three ways to feel refreshed and renewed, without the resolutions:

1) First, befriend your life as it is

It’s common to daydream about an idyllic and successful future (who amongst us hasn’t practiced their Oscar acceptance speech?) but spending too much time thinking about how things could be “one day” prevents us from appreciating how things are right now.

Learning to befriend all moments places us firmly in the life we are living, rather than the ideal life we are prone to imagine or strive towards. “The shift from aversion to befriending is the most radical shift any student of mindfulness can make,” says Willem Kuyken PhD, Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. “Befriending involves being curious, friendly, and kind, and is a capacity that we can all develop toward ourselves and our experiences. It is available to all of us, and is the home where our hearts and minds dwell,” says Kuyken. Here, he offers a mindfulness practice to find meaning in every moment.

2) Then, add purpose to each new day

Finding a sense of purpose can feel like an intimidating task—but it doesn’t have to be. Tapping into purpose can be as simple as taking a moment to decide, “I’m going to say thank you more,” or “I’m going to call my sister today.”

Your day-to-day activities offer ample opportunities to call up mindfulness in any moment. Breathe space into your morning routine with this simple wake-up practice to slow down and start each day with greater intention.

3) Finally, find a support system

There’s no doubt about it—our relationships help us thrive. Whether you’re trying to conquer Mount Everest or simply get over a bad day, having someone by your side to support you can make all the difference.

Building communities of care creates a culture of compassion and accountability, inspiring you to be the best version of yourself. Here are four ways to create a community of care and surround yourself with supportive people.

Here’s hoping you all find moments to enjoy being mindful this week.

Written by MINDFUL STAFF